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ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems

ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for the environmental management of businesses. It prescribes controls for those activities that have an effect on the environment. These include the use of natural resources, handling and treatment of waste and energy consumption.

Implementing an Environmental Management System is a systematic way to discover and control the effects your company has on the environment. Cost savings can be made through improved efficiency and productivity. These are achieved by detecting ways to minimise waste and dispose of it more effectively and by learning how to use energy more efficiently. It verifies compliance with current legislation and makes insurance cover more accessible.

Firstly, you need to evaluate the effect your organisation has on the environment. You then need to prioritise ways in which you might reduce them. Next, identify the boundaries of your management system and document your procedures for implementing the requirements of ISO 14001. You will need to ensure these procedures are implemented and then audited. If you have ISO 9000 systems in place, many of the requirements of ISO 14001 will already be covered, or can be easily incorporated into them.

Once developed, internal audits are needed to ensure the system carries on working. The setting of targets for the environmental policy and continual measuring against it ensures the system is maintained.

Once you have an environmental management system in place, you may choose to have it externally audited. Following a successful audit by an accredited certification body, you will be issued with a certificate of registration to ISO 14001. This demonstrates that your organisation is committed to environmental issues and is prepared to work towards improving the environment. It also gives a competitive edge to the company's marketing and enhances its image in the eyes of customers, employees and shareholders.

Joint ISO 14001 and ISO 9000 systems

There are several common elements between the two standards, such as management review, document control, corrective action and the requirement for trained personnel. These can be combined into a single, joint system (together with Health & Safety if desired). Assessment of joint systems is available and may be the most suitable and cost effective approach for some companies.

 

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